Another comedy of errors…

The weather forecast for today was for mist and fog in the morning, but for this to lift fairly quickly and then be relatively clear for the rest of the day.

Arrived at Brize early (as usual) and went with Asma to collect the weather. Asma asked the Met man what the current visibility was, and he said it was 12k! Having barely able to see the runway, this was doubtful, and his observer confirmed that it was actually below 4k!

The forecaster assured us that the poor visibility shouldn’t last much more than an hour, so we went back to the club.

By this time it was obvious that my first slot wouldn’t happen, so Luned and I went to Burford garden centre (an easy landmark to use to spot Burford from the air) and had (a rather expensive!) lunch.

By the time we got back, the weather still wasn’t looking great so we decided to do a bit of the ground briefing for navigation which would be needed in the next few sessions time.

Asma showed me how to create a flight log, including making the relevant corrections for wind direction and calculating ETAs using the whizz wheel. Took a little getting used to, but hopefully once I’ve had a bit of practice this will become a bit easier.

Then the weather appeared to clear a bit, so Asma said I could go up and do some solo circuits just so that I’d at least done some flying today. In the meantime Paul had called in to cancel tomorrow’s sessions because he had been asked to work, but that wasn’t much of a surprise because the forecast was pretty poor anyway.

A returning pilot said he’d had to avoid some rain showers out North of Burford, so Asma told me that if I spotted the rain coming in I should land and call an end to the session.

So, off I went, carried out the external checks and got ready to start the engine. Was just getting ready to call for taxi clearance when the engine started to splutter and then died. Odd. Had a quick check and realised I hadn’t turned the fuel on, so there’d been enough in the lines to get the engine started, but then it died when this was exhausted. Fair enough.

Turned the fuel on, restarted the engine and got taxy clearance. Headed out to the hold and carried out the power checks, then out on to the runway (after being told to line up), making sure to turn left at the intersection and not right as we were on 08 today!

Was kept sitting on the runway for quite a while, before being given clearance to take off. Quick check of the engine instruments, full power and off we went. The aircraft was skipping off the runway as I got over 60 knots or so, so pulled back and got airbourne, establishing the normal climb attitude to climb out at 75 knots.

Made the turn to crosswind at 500 feet as normal, then concentrated on a good level off at 1000 feet. My time out of the circuit had obviously had an effect, because by the time I turned downwind I was probably twice as far out from the runway as I should have been.

Got that sorted out with a quick course correction, then called downwind and did my checks. Just as the checks were complete I spotted the first spots of rain on the windscreen. Something about Asma’s warning must have set me off, because the rest of the flight was a bit of a shambles to be honest.

Turned base too early, and made the call for final, changing my intentions to ‘to land’. Was too close, so the rest of the approach was basically a glide. Was trying to keep an eye on the weather to see how quickly it was coming in, and this caused me to allow the speed to decay down to close to 60 knots before I spotted it and rectified it quickly.

The rest of the approach was Ok, but I landed slightly long, and not the greatest I’ve done recently.

As I headed back to the hold, Tower asked if this was to be my final landing or just an intermediate one. At that point I wasn’t too sure, so told them I’d advice them once I’d made my mind up.

I taxyed back and weighed up my options. The rain didn’t appear to be getting any worse, and if anything had eased off a little. However, this was only supposed to be a half hour session, and I’d already used about 25 minutes thus far. Also, for some reason the problems I’d had on final together with the rain had really shaken me.

So I advised Tower that I was ending this sortie now, and parked the aircraft up, pushing it back into the hangar.

As I trudged back the reality of what had happened started to hit me in waves. I’d lost concentration enough on final to allow the speed to get below what it should be. Although it was never low enough to be potentially dangerous, if I hadn’t caught it when I did then it could have been a whole different kettle of fish.

So, on the whole a very disappointing day. Hopefully next weekend will bring some good weather, and I can get in the planned solo GH session, followed by the introductory Nav flight.

Total flight time today: Dual 0:00 – Solo – 0:20
Take-offs: 1 – Landings: 1

Total flight time to date: Dual 19:20 – Solo 3:10
Take-offs to date: 72 – Landings to date: 67

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